Lokpal Is Still A Mirage
GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
THE appointment of anti-corruption ombudsman or Lokpal was one of the most important promises of the then premier-aspirant Narendra Modi. The Modi-led NDA has been in power for the last four and a half years, but the Lokpal is still a mirage. If put in place, the Lokpal will have an unprecedented power to probe important people in public life like the Prime Minister, MPs and central government servants and, therefore, the procrastination of the NDA government is understandable. The Supreme Court is seized of the matter and in a latest hearing the court has been told that a search committee has been formed in September under the chairmanship of former SC judge Justice Ranjana Desai to select Lokpal and its members. The search committee of eight members has, among others, former solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, former SBI chairperson Arundathi Bhattacharya, and former ISRO chief A S Kiran Kumar. The selection committee under Modi had first met on March 18, 2018 and the search committee was appointed in September 2018. In the SC, Attorney General K K Venugopal was keen to offer “notes of the proceedings” of the search committee since its inception in September but the bench headed by the Chief Justice was adamant that the government file an affidavit on the issue. The Lokpal will have eight members in total including the chief (Lokpal), of which 50 per cent will be judicial members. The much awaited Lokpal is bound to be a game changer in public life. People’s confidence in our public servants is abysmally low. The general perception is about how the high and the mighty escape from the clutches of law while smaller fishes are caught in the web of anti-corruption cases. The intent of the Lokpal is to send a message that all are equal under the law. To serve its purpose, persons of unimpeachable integrity and honesty should find their way into the Lokpal. The search committee has an onerous task to find able and clean members to the Lokpal. The affidavit to be filed by the government in the SC should throw light on the progress made so far in zeroing in on the anti-graft ombudsman.